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Journal Article  February 26, 2018

Job searching, job duration, and job loss among young adults with autism spectrum disorder

SRI Authors Xin Wei, Jennifer W. Yu



Wei, X., Yu, J. W., Wagner, M., Hudson, L., Roux, A., Shattuck, P., & Blackorby, J. (2018). Job searching, job duration, and job loss among young adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 48, 1–10.


BACKGROUND: With evidence pointing to particularly poor employment outcomes for young adults with ASD, it is important to understand their employment experiences in order to develop effective interventions that address their needs.

OBJECTIVE: We compared the job search experience, job duration, and job loss of young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their peers with four other types of disabilities.

METHODS: The study analyzed wave 5 data collected in 2009 from youth or their parents who were included in the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2), a nationally representative sample of youth who received special education services in high school.

RESULTS: Among 21 to 25 year olds with ASD, fewer than 30% were looking for a paid job at the time of the interview and approximately 22% found a job on their own, the lowest rates among the five disability groups included in the analyses. It took them an average of 14 months to find a job, longer than the other disability groups. Young adults with ASD held a job for an average of 24 months, longer than youth in two of the other disability categories. The main reason young adults with ASD became unemployed is because their temporary job ended. Those who were older, were from higher-income households, had better conversational or functional skills, or attended postsecondary schools had more positive employment experiences.

CONCLUSIONS: Young adults with ASD experienced considerable difficulty obtaining long-term employment, and more research is needed to determine strategies for improving their employment outcomes.

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